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GuideStar Blog

Key Questions to Engage, Upgrade and Solicit Your Donor

Our time with donors is a precious commodity. To make every second count we have to be prepared to ask strategic questions to reveal their interests. Ask the right ones and your donor will tell you how to engage, upgrade, solicit and steward them. They can reveal how much they’d like to give, how, what for, and who should make the ask.

Ready to get started? Start with a little homework before the visit: a wealth screen so that you can be clear your donor has capacity to upgrade their giving. Not sure which donors to look at? This guide on mid-level donors can help you uncover the major gift gems in your pipeline.

Rachel Muir headshot Rachel Muir, CFRE

Next it’s time to find out as much as you can about your donor’s interests before you meet with them. Some free tools you can use for this include Google, adding them to your LinkedIn network, following them on Twitter, liking their company on Facebook, following them in Pinterest and setting up a Google alert for their name so you get automatic updates on them. The purpose of this research is not to be a creepy stalker. It’s to gain insight into your donor’s passions, world view, values and interests so that on your visit you can quickly build rapport, share the right opportunities, and be able to identify the fears and risks a donor feels even if they never say them out loud.

Now we’re ready to go on our visit. It’s time to be intentional. What are our goals for our meeting?

In my work training fundraisers at Pursuant, I coach fundraisers to set three goals to accomplish with any visit:

  • What you want the donor to feel
  • What you want the donor to know
  • What you want to learn

Every second of this meeting is an opportunity. Here are 5 of my favorite questions to ask a donor:

  1. What motivated you to make your first gift to us?
  2. What is the most satisfying philanthropic gift you ever made and why?
  3. Which of the agencies you support do they best job of keeping you involved in their mission? How?
  4. If you could change the world, what would you do?
  5. What legacy do you want to have? Can you finish it alone?

If you want to learn more about revealing donor’s interests to improve your fundraising strategy join us at 12 pm CST on Thursday July 24th for a free webinar, How to Reveal Donors Interests and Upgrade Their Giving” with my colleague Erik Tomalis, who has done over 3,000 face to face asks. You’ll gain valuable insights, hear stories from the trenches, and get plenty of time to ask us your solicitation questions!

The preceding is a guest post by Rachel Muir, CFRE, Vice President of Training at Pursuant where she transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a non-profit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show. Find Rachel on Twitter @rachelmuir, and Pursuant @pursuant.

Topics: Fundraising